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Dr. Charles Stoltz 





the Class of 1901 

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

The Tragic Career 


^Jvlary Todd Jjncoln 


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T)r. Charles Stoltz 

Privately Printed 

The 'Rgund Table 

South ^Bend, Indiana 







a/ 1 





As the writer of this paper died 
between the date of its delivery and 
that of its publication, it has been 
thought proper to depart from the 
usual form in which Round Table 
papers are published, and to in- 
clude a picture and short appreci- 
ation of the author. 




'Born, January 17, 1864 
T)ied, August 5, 1931 


^An ^Appreciation 

Charles Stoltz was a native of this county. His an- 
cestors, while of German origin, came from Alsace-Lor- 
raine and for a time lived in France. All of Dr. Stoltz's 
sympathies and traditions were French, and something of 
his Gallic background was noticeable in his mannerisms 
and personality. 

Essentially, he was typical American, with inherent love 
of freedom, independence, with a fine flair for discriminat- 
ing justice, and an unfailing sense of humor. 

His lifes story is almost a duplication of that of most 
of the successful men of his generation. He had to ma\e 
his way by his own efforts. He was teacher and principal 
in the public schools, attended Valparaiso University two 
years, Indiana University one year, where he became the 
lifelong friend of David Starr Jordan, then through the 
College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago. All this 
education accomplished by unceasing labor and privation. 

Dr. Stoltz had a natural and strongly developed interest 
in science and advocated the study of pure science regard- 
less of its immediate practical value. His next strongest in- 
terest was history. He acquired a vast store of historical 
\nowledge and, owing to his remar\able memory, this 

\now ledge remained immediately available until his death. 
He devoted much time to the history of Indiana, and if a 
question arose as, for instance, why South Bend came to 
be in Indiana instead of Michigan, where its site was 
originally located, Dr. Stoltz could furnish carefully com' 
piled information. 

In larger matters his historical \now ledge was as broad 
and accurate. 

Few men were better informed on the life and charac 
ter of Lincoln and he possessed one of the finest Lincoln 
libraries in the West. 

His research in this field led him to spend his final days, 
at a time when his sight had all but gone, in preparing the 
paper which follows, for he had come to believe that Mary 
Todd Lincoln had been greatly misunderstood and 

Dr. Stoltz in appearance and character was an unique 
personality. He had in mar\ed degree the main elements of 
greatness, — courage, simplicity, and sincerity. His sixty 
seven years were filled with hard wor\, high thin\ing, and 
\indly and helpful interest in his fellow man. 

U. G. Manning. 

It was the intention of the au- 
thor to accredit various writers 
with the quotations and items of 
fact which he used from their 
wor\s to substantiate his thesis 
which emphasizes the fine culture 
and education in the early life of 
both Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. 

These individual acknowledg- 
ments were made impossible by 
reason of his untimely death. 

The publishers desire to ma\e 
this \nown to those readers who 
are interested in the treatment of 
this subject, and to those writers 
to whom these courtesies are due. 

f( I am a man, and everything 
human interests me. " 

<^^>3 <nS?S^ 6<2?5i3 e^XiS ■ 

■ <,■ ■,;■■ .,,..,.., ..... .... ,.,..,. ...... .,., 


"Lady of Lincoln, 
They wreathed her head 
With thorns when living, 
With nettles though dead." 

Marion Mills Miller 

* * * 

"The world will never \now the full extent of its in' 
debtedness to Mary Todd Lincoln for what Abraham Lin- 
coln was, and for what he was permitted to accomplish." 

* * * Ervin Chapin. 

"I wish my readers could have \nown this woman as 
it was my good fortune to \now her in the prime of her 
life, and could understand her devoted ambition for, and 
the inspiration she was to Abraham Lincoln in all the days 
of their Springfield literary, financial, and political strug' 

les." Henry S. Rankin. 

* * * 

"It may have been that gentle Ann Rutledge, or portly, 
complacent Mary Owens, or youthful, light-hearted Sarah 
Ric\ard, could have endowed the tall Sycamore of the 
Sangamon with richer measure of marital bliss, but never 
did a young wife bring to a husband, interested in state- 
craft and anxious for preferment, such a wealth of first- 
hand information on a grave, moral and political asso- 
ciation with great men of her day, as did Mary Todd to 

Abraham Lincoln." ._ . TT _ 

William n. Townsend. 


The Tragic Career 


^JViary Todd Xjncoln 

A century has elapsed since the youthful 
Abraham Lincoln entered politics. It was 
in the early spring of 1832. He had just attained 
the age of twenty 'three. He had been in his newly 
adopted state barely two years when he aspired to 
become a member of its legislature, expressing his 
ambition in that perfectly written epistle ending 
naively, — "If the voters elect me they will have 
conferred a favor upon me for which I shall be un- 
remitting in my labors to compensate. But if the 
good people in their wisdom should see fit to 
keep me in the background, I have been too 
familiar with disappointments to be very much 

The Black Hawk War interrupted his election- 
eering. He enlisted and was elected captain of 
his company. The Indian uprising proved a wide- 
spread scare, but hardly bloody. 

Chief Black Hawk was captured in Wisconsin, 
marched off to Washington in irons — had a long 

16 The Tragic Career of 

satisfactory powwow with the Great Father, An- 
drew Jackson, and lived warless "ever after." 
Captain Lincoln walked home. Not only had his 
horse been stolen, but on account of his absence 
from the hustings, he suffered defeat for the legis- 

Thus his public career began with war and was 
destined to end with war — for, twenty-nine years 
later he was himself to become the Great Father at 
Washington, and journeyed from his Illinois home 
fettered, indeed, not like the vanquished Black 
Hawk, with iron chains and manacles but by trea- 
son, calumny, intrigue and suspicion. 

The decade which followed Captain Lincoln's 
attempt at politics was not without results. It 
embodied flat-boating, store-keeping, debts, sur- 
veying, postmaster, the law, politics, four terms 
in the legislature, several love affairs of varying 
intensity, and finally matrimony. 

For the background of his achievements of the 
first decade in Illinois, we must go back to his last 
decade in Indiana, for, all in all, Lincoln was a 

The phenomenal thing about Lincoln was his 
constant intellectual growth. His was an untiring 
quest of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, 
and that quest, which became so useful in later 
years, originated in early Indiana. 

No biographer from Herndon to Beveridge 

Mary Todd Lincoln 17 

ever knew enough about early Indiana History to 
write an adequate biography of the adolescent 
Abraham Lincoln. We must not take the sarcas- 
tic Baynard R. Hall's "New Purchase" nor Ed- 
ward Eggleston's humorous "Hoosier School Mas- 
ter" nor yet James Whitcomb Riley's amusing 
dialect as indicative of the intelligence of primi- 
tive Indiana. The decade preceding Lincoln's re- 
moval to Illinois was remarkable for its growth 
and learning. 

I pray your indulgence for the time I am con- 
suming in picturing early Indiana and rebuilding 
the elements of Lincoln's youthful environment. 
It is these early days, of our state and our great 
president which our historians have so grievously 
distorted. Unfortunately, these distortions have 
become the accepted conceptions. Their incon- 
sistencies are apparent. No woman of the culture 
and refinement of Mary Todd could have been 
drawn to the shallow uncouth Lincoln of the glib, 
pot-boiler, Emil Ludwig; nor to the unwashed 
ignoramus of Edgar Lee Masters, nor yet to the 
Lincoln of Beveridge's diatribes. 

When Indiana was admitted as a state there 
were only thirteen organised counties all adjacent 
to the Ohio and Wabash Rivers. The Indian vil- 
lage, Kekiongay, on the Maumee, had long ago 
become the enterprising town of Fort Wayne, but 
it was still isolated in unorganized territory. 

18 The Tragic Career of 

The Ohio River was a great highway of com- 
merce but even more so a great highway of intelli- 
gence and intellectual enterprise. 

Much of Lincoln's youth was spent on this 
river. Up and down this stream traveled many of 
the great minds of the world: Aaron Burr, Blen- 
nerhasset, Constantine Raffinesque, the eccentric 
naturalist, Audubon, the ornithologist, Daniel 
Drake, renowned Cincinnati physician and nat- 
uralist, O. M. Mitchell, pioneer astronomer west 
of the Alleghanies, Lafayette, when he visited 
America in 1824, Sir Charles Lyell, Harriet Mar 
tineau, De Tocqueville and others. 

The ubiquitous Johnny Appleseed, whose body 
lies buried in Fort Wayne, was planting his or- 
chards along the Ohio, from the Muskingum to 
the Wabash. The population was still too sparse 
for the fragrance of his apple blossoms to reach 
from settlement to settlement. However, the ec- 
centric but welcome Swedenborgian itinerant 
filled in the gap by his seasonal presence, carrying 
news and personal messages, thus making the 
Southern Indiana world a kin. 

In 1826, Robert Owen brought his "boat load 
of knowledge' ' down the Ohio and up the Wabash 
to New Harmony, which became the scientific out- 
post of the west. To New Harmony came nota- 
bles from all over the civilised world to confer 
with these eminent scholars: Thomas Say, father 

Mary Todd Lincoln 19 

of American zoology, Maclure, the naturalist, Jo' 
seph Neef, disciple of Pestalossi, Gerard Troost, 
earliest American mineralogist, and the rest. 

Notable among these visitors were Joseph War' 
ren, social philosopher, the Duke of Saxe'Weimar, 
Sir Charles Lyell, the eminent English geologist, 
Harriet Martineau and Basil Hall, English travel' 
ers and commentators, and Maximillian, Prince of 
Wied, who spent an entire winter in New Har 
mony. He wrote a description of his travels and a 
commentary on the mammals of North America. 
In later years he published a synopsis of this latter 
work, a copy of which is in the possession of our 
learned fellow member, Dr. Marcus Lyon. 

Here also came De Tocqueville, the philosophic 
Frenchman who wrote his observations in that 
most searching analysis of our institutions — 
"Democracy in America." 

"New Harmony became the headquarters of 
the United States Geological Survey, with one of 
its own students, David Dale Owen, son of Robert 
Owen, in charge. New Harmony was the site of 
a museum containing the remarkable collections of 
Say and Maclure, and of a scientific library unex- 
celled on the continent/'' 

Here was published the New Harmony Gazette 
which Lincoln read carefully as he also did the 
Vincennes Sun and the Louisville Journal. 

"It was in certain of the New Harmony commu" 

20 The Tragic Career of 

nities that women were first given a voice and vote 
in local legislative assemblages, and there the doc 
trine of equal political rights for all, without re' 
gard to sex or color, was first proclaimed by 
Frances Wright/ ' It is suggestive of Lincoln's 
Hoosier education that he made Frances Wright's 
declarations in the New Harmony Gazette, part 
and parcel of his first political platform referred 
to at the beginning of this paper. 

Fourteen miles west from Lincoln's home lived 
Ratliffe Boone, second governor of Indiana and 
later U. S. congressman for many terms, who was 
known to the Lincolns in Kentucky days. His 
library was open to young Lincoln. 

Fourteen miles south on the Ohio River was 
Rockport, the county seat of Spencer County, 
where Lincoln attended court. Here he cultivated 
the friendship of Judge John Pitcher, whose well 
selected library was also open to the youthful 

Lincoln was too shrewd a politician to air his 
early educational advantages, for frontier voters 
did not take kindly to candidates for office who 
lauded their own accomplishments. However, 
when he once confided to Leonard Swett that, 
back in Indiana, he had read every book he could 
get his hands on within a radius of fifty miles, he 
let slip a clue that his biographers should not have 

Mary Todd Lincoln 21 

When you shall have read Dr. Louis A. War- 
ren's forthcoming work on Lincoln in Indiana, 
you will be convinced that books were not so 
scarce in early Hoosierdom. 

At Rockport, Princeton, and other county 
seats Lincoln saw lawyers fight legal battles and 
listened to the oratorical emanations of good legal 
minds. Particularly was he impressed, as he stated 
years afterward, with an address to a jury by 
John A. Breckenridge, of Booneville. David Tur- 
nam, of Gentry ville, loaned him the Indiana Stat' 
utes and other legal tomes which he devoured 

Lincoln, when eighteen years old, had acquired 
sufficient familiarity with legal procedure to be able 
to defend and win a suit against himself in Squire 
Pate's court over in Kentucky, across from the 
mouth of Anderson's Creek, where he operated a 
ferry. After this, at the invitation of Squire Pate, 
he frequently crossed the river and attended ses' 
sions of his court. On these trips he also busied 
himself reading the Kentucky statutes. 

When Lincoln was in Indiana there was intense 
activity in founding schools and colleges. Vin- 
cennes University opened its doors to students in 
1816. Indiana University was founded in 1820, — 
Hanover College in 1827. The organization of 
Asbury, now De Pauw University, was projected 
in 1832. The same year Wabash at Crawfords- 

22 The Tragic Career of 

ville, founded by four pioneer missionaries of the 
Presbyterian Church, James Thompson, John 
Steele Thompson, Edmund O. Hovey, and James 
Carnahan, received students at its beautiful sylvan 

The itinerant clergy, some of whom were, or 
were to become eminent divines, were no small 
part of the intellectual life and educational urge of 
Southern Indiana in Lincoln's Hoosier days. Rev. 
Henry Little, maternal grandfather of Dr. Edward 
H. Griggs, well known lecturer, was a scholarly 
Campbellite preacher widely known and of great 

The great Methodist Bishop Roberts, after a life 
of toil and triumph on the Southern Indiana cir- 
cuit, died and was buried in a cornfield. He was 
later re-interred in the grounds of De Pauw Uni- 
versity, which institution he had been instrumental 
in establishing. 

Peter Cartwright, who defeated Lincoln in his 
first race for office in 1832 and was to be his po- 
litical antagonist for a score of years, but who 
became one of his strongest defenders during the 
Civil War, was not new to the nascent politician 
of the Sangamon. This redoubtable Jacksonian 
Democrat's circuit riding had for years extended 
eastward over the Wabash, into the Lincoln coun- 
try in Indiana. 

During the Civil War, no one stood higher in 

Mary Todd Lincoln 23 

the confidence of Abraham Lincoln than Henry 
Ward Beecher, Dr. Gurly and Bishop Ames, the 
last named, widely conversant with the slave ques- 
tion. All these clergymen were from early Indian- 
apolis but before this they had been circuit riders 
in Southern Indiana, and well known to Lincoln. 

Indiana — up to the last decade — has had a long 
line of learned and distinguished governors. The 
first six of these namely, Jonathan Jennings, Rat' 
lifFe Boone, William Hendricks, James Brown 
Wray, Noab Noble, whom Beecher designated as 
"Noble by name and Noble by nature" and Da- 
vid Wallace, father of Lew Wallace, all stumped 
Southern Indiana and were models for Lincoln in 
his political aspirations. 

Among the outstanding stump speakers of In- 
diana, inclusive of the governors already men- 
tioned, were: Thomas Posey, Christopher Har- 
rison, Gen. John Carr, Mark Grume, Dr. John W. 
Davis, Oliver H. Smith, Andrew J. Wiley, — as- 
tronomer and first President of Indiana University, 
Judge Isaac Blackford, Dr. Israel T. Canby, Har- 
bin H. Moore, John Tipton, Dan Lynn, Frederick 
Rapp and scores of others, too numerous to men- 

The enterprising young Lincoln came in con- 
tact with all of these and in his official life after- 
ward had occasion to refer to their activities. That 
he himself had been well known is proved by the 

24 The Tragic Career of 

fact that when in 1844 he stumped Southern In- 
diana for Clay, he was received with acclaim as 
an old friend and citizen, and in turn he was able 
to recognise and call by name many prominent 
persons in his audiences. 

The Southwestern Indiana Historical Society, 
under the leadership of such enthusiasts as John 
Barker, of Booneville, Mrs. Kate Ehrman, of 
Rockport, and the venerable, vivacious Judge John 
E. Iglehart, of Evansville, is piling up evidence on 
evidence that Abraham Lincoln left Indiana a 
thoroughly sophisticated and well educated young 

I have thus, of necessity, but as briefly as pos- 
sible, detailed these few facts about Lincoln's en- 
vironment and intellectual development during 
his Indiana years from 1816 to 1830, because his 
biographers have invariably misrepresented his true 
status as a Hoosier and have asserted an incon- 
gruity in his marriage to the cultured Mary Todd. 
There was nothing phenomenal nor incongruous 
about this alliance. It was an intellectual match. 
Moreover, there is plenty of evidence that there 
was love and devotion from the beginning of their 
ardent, though sometimes stormy courtship, to the 
very end of their days. Both had Revolutionary 
and Indian-fighting ancestors. They were both 
supremely intellectual. Both cherished ambitions 
and high ideals. Both were deeply versed in poli- 

Mary Todd Lincoln 25 

tics and statecraft. Both were ardent disciples of 
Henry Clay and last, but not least, both were 
deeply concerned in the Whig faith, for in those 
days people took their religion and their politics 

Miss Todd came to Springfield from Lexington, 
Kentucky, the Athens of the west — the seat of 
Transylvania University, and other renowned edu' 
cational institutions. She came to make her home 
with her sister, Elisabeth, who, at sixteen years of 
age, had married Ninian Edwards when he was a 
junior at Transylvania. This young man, a son 
of Governor Edwards, when first visited by Mary 
Todd at Springfield, had become attorney general 
of Illinois. 

Mary Todd was the daughter of Robert Smith 
Todd, a citizen of dignity, probity and honor — 
and a man of many and diverse affairs, high in 
the counsels of the Whig party in Kentucky. Her 
grandfather, Gen. Levi Todd, was the only field 
officer at the battle of Blue Licks who was not 
killed. Her great/uncle, John Todd, was the first 
governor of what later became Illinois, and was 
present with George Rogers Clark in 1778 at the 
capture of Kaskaskia and Vincennes. 

On the side of her mother, Ann Eliza Parker, 
her ancestry was scarcely less distinguished. She 
traced her descent from Gen. Andrew Porter of 
the Revolution. Her great-uncles, George B. Por- 

26 The Tragic Career of 

ter, territorial Governor of Michigan from 1829 
to the time of his death in 1834, James Madison 
Porter, Sec'y of Navy under President Tyler, and 
David R. Porter, Governor of Pennsylvania, were 
all men of note. 

Mary Todd's academic career was begun in 
Ward's celebrated Preparatory School, and fin' 
ished in Madam Mentelle's renowned Academy, 
just on the outskirsts of Lexington, opposite Ash' 
land, Henry Clay's home. She was a brilliant 
pupil and a diligent student. She developed a tal' 
ent for languages which was exceptional. She 
spoke French fluently and with such purity as to 
surprise those who had the native Parisian tongue. 
The French classics were her choice reading but 
beyond this there was a wide range in her taste. A 
writer, who was familiar with the Springfield 
home of the Lincolns, has described her as reading 
aloud evenings while her husband sat by the hour, 
with his chair propped against the wall, his feet 
comfortably encased in the large slippers on which 
Mary Todd had embroidered the initials "A. L." 
Moreoften, however, it was Lincoln who read 
aloud while the devoted wife was the listener as 
she sat busy with her needle. 

Soon after Lincoln's marriage, Robert Smith 
Todd made a visit to Springfield. Upon return- 
ing home, he declared that he had four daughters 
in Springfield, and he was proud to say that each 

Mary Todd Lincoln 27 

had married a gentleman of culture and distinc- 

Mary Todd was a discerning student of men 
and affairs. Lexington was the center of slave 
activity from its mildest to its worst form, and 
there was no phase of the slave question with 
which she was not thoroughly familiar. The Todd 
residence on Second Street, still standing today, 
and the nearby Parker residence, were adjacent to 
the notorious Robard's slave pen. At Cheapside, 
the court house square of today, were the auction 
block and the whipping post which, by the time 
Mary Todd left Lexington, were being used with 
painful and increasing frequency. 

Slavery was the dominating political, social and 
moral question. Her father's house was the ren- 
dezvous for politicians and statesmen. She knew 
them all, — John Hunt Morgan, John C. Brecken- 
ridge, Vice-President with James Buchanan and 
candidate for President against Lincoln, Cassius 
M. Clay, Richard H. Menifee, and many others 
who later became prominent in national affairs or 
the victims of pro-slavery domination. These were 
about her age and were her playmates. A few of 
the older group were, Henry Clay, Robert Breck- 
enridge, Senator Crittenden, who had been best 
man at her father's second marriage, and Samuel 
B. Shy, grandfather of our talented Mrs. Violet 
Shy Parks, of Mishawaka. 

28 The Tragic Career of 

When Miss Todd came to Springfield to reside, 
the ambitious western capital sat up and took no' 
tice. Here was a young woman who could talk 
politics and statecraft with the most expert. 
When she appeared at social gatherings, she was 
usually surrounded by such prominent profession' 
al and political characters as Judge David Davis, 
Stephen A. Douglas, John A. McClernand, Ly 
man Trumball, O. M. Hatch, Simeon Francis, 
editor of the Sangamon Journal, Newton Bate' 
man, state superintendent of public education, and 
her two cousins, Major John T. Stuart and 
Stephen T. Logan, successively early law partners 
of Abraham Lincoln. 

If there were striplings about, politically in' 
clined, such as Clark E. Carr, Henry B. Rankin or 
Ervin Chapman, they were sure to be drawn into 
the charmed circle. For this we may be thankful, 
because some of them lived to redeem the good 
name and nature of Mrs. Lincoln after the veno' 
mous froth and fusillade of words were dissipated. 

Biographers have had much to say about the 
numerous suitors at the disposal of Miss Todd, 
but I have yet to find one who had the temerity 
to set out, by name, any of this fancied multitude 
except, of course, Stephen A. Douglas and Abra' 
ham Lincoln. 

For brevity's sake, I shall give you Barton's dis- 
posal of the situation. Barton says: 

Mary Todd Lincoln 29 

"Of her lovers, only two were of importance. 
One of them was the gay, brilliant Stephen A. 
Douglas, whom she rejected as a lover and re 
tained as a friend, and whom she still found use' 
ful for an occasional flirtation; and the other was 
the tall gaunt Abraham Lincoln. 1 '' 

"And she chose Abraham Lincoln.' ' 

I do not think that there ever was any consid' 
erable personal animosity between the Lincolns 
and Stephen A. Douglas. Their differences, 
though at times intense, were purely political, and 
their relations outside of long political opposition 
were, at least, not hostile. Lincoln and his wife 
in later years always referred respectfully to Doug- 
las as Judge Douglas or Senator Douglas, while 
one of Douglas's oft repeated pleasantries concern- 
ing his tall antagonist was, that — "Of all the 
damned Whig rascals about Springfield, Abe Lin- 
coln is the ablest and the honestest." 

No statesman ever had a more comprehensive 
understanding of any major controversy than did 
Abraham Lincoln of slavery. In the development 
of this profound knowledge, Mrs. Lincoln played 
a paramount part. Lincoln's sources of familiarity 
with this grave, moral and political question were, 
of course, numerous and varied. His childhood 
days in Kentucky were tinctured with revulsion 
towards the evil system. 

By the ordinance of 1787 as well as by the first 

30 The Tragic Career of 

constitutions of Indiana and Illinois, slavery was 
forbidden in these two states of Lincoln's adop- 
tion. Yet for decades negroes were actually held 
in bondage in these two commonwealths. Slave 
litigation was dragging through the courts. Slave- 
catching and negro-stealing were exciting the pop- 

Travelers from foreign countries, De Tocque- 
ville, Lyell, Dickens, Mrs. Martineau and the rest, 
were writing about slavery in American period- 
icals, many of which found their way to the well 
filled reading table of the Lincoln home at Eighth 
and Jackson Streets. Lincoln's great Cooper-Union 
speech, his masterpiece of logic, was the consum- 
mation of years of thought and browsing in the 
state library. But of all the sources of knowledge 
which Lincoln had at his command, none wrought 
so powerful an influence over him as did the little 
help-mate who was reared in affluence in the midst 
of the accursed system. 

Lincoln, before his marriage, had made Joshua 
Speed a visit in his Louisville home which may or 
may not have colored his view of slavery. How- 
ever, after his marriage he made three prolonged 
visits with Mrs. Lincoln to Lexington, where 
slavery affected him profoundly. 

In 1847, Mrs. Lincoln and the children accom- 
panied him to her paternal home where he was a 
keen observer of the system for weeks before he 

Mary Todd Lincoln 31 

went on to Washington to take his seat in the 
House of Representatives. 

Mrs. Lincoln's father died July 16, 1849. It 
became incumbent on Lincoln to take part in the 
settlement of Mr. Todd's estate, and together the 
Lincolns again sojourned in Kentucky for four 
weeks. At this time the wildest excitement pre' 
vailed over slavery throughout Kentucky. Here 
it was the most probable, as Townsend says, that 
Lincoln came to the conclusion that interference 
with slavery, where it was already established, did 
not mitigate its evils nor tend to solidify sentiment 
against even gradual emancipation. 

In the spring of 1850 the Lincolns again made a 
trip to the Blue Grass Capital. They had suf' 
fered, what was to them, the first tragedy of their 
married life. February 1st their four year old son, 
Eddie, died of diphtheria after a two weeks 1 illness. 

A few days later came the intelligence that 
Mrs. Lincoln's grandmother, the aged Mrs. Eliz,a' 
beth R. Parker, had died January 26th. 

"Shaken and disconsolate in their first great sor' 
row, seeking escape from surroundings that con' 
stantly reminded them of their little son, Mary 
and her husband took advantage of business in 
connection with the settlement of the Parker es' 
tate and came back to Lexington several weeks 
after Eddie's death." 

In all of these visits to Lexington, Lincoln and 

32 The Tragic Career of 

his wife contemplated the growing evils of slavery. 
Strange to say, no writer before Townsend seems 
to have noted two of the most vital factors in 
Lincoln's conception of slavery. Namely, his own 
observation of the evil in a community deeply 
steeped in it, and the fixed conclusion of Mrs. 
Lincoln, based on her environment and discussion 
with eminent statesmen of her day. 

Students of Lincoln's life must be deeply indebt- 
ed to Mr. Townsend, this young Lexington law- 
yer, for writing so vividly and reliably on this 
phase of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln's career. 

Mary Todd Lincoln was a born politician. No 
other American woman ever had so much to do 
with bringing her husband to the highest office in 
the gift of the people as did Mrs. Lincoln. From 
her childhood to the time she became mistress of 
the President's Mansion, "on to the White House" 
was ever her slogan and the world has never yet 
been told the full story of the persistency, wisdom 
and efficiency with which she accomplished her 

Katherine Helm, niece of Mrs. Lincoln, has re- 
corded in her book, "Mary, Wife of Lincoln," the 
girlish prattle of Mary Todd in which she ex- 
pressed her ambition to live in the White House. 
Galloping out to the Clay Mansion on her re- 
cently acquired trick pony one day, this vivacious 
youngster brought the gallant Harry of the West, 

Mary Todd Lincoln 33 

with six eminent statesmen, from his dinner table 
to an inspection of the pony's virtues, and in turn 
received an invitation from Mrs. Clay to join the 
distinguished company at dinner. 

"Seated by her hero she was blissfully happy 
listening with absorbed interest to the political 
discussion which animated the voices and faces of 
the diners.' ' 

"During a lull, she exclaimed suddenly, "Mr. 
Clay, my father says you are the best judge of 
horse-flesh in Kentucky and I just had to bring 
my beautiful pony out for your inspection. My 
father bought him of those strolling players who 
were stranded here. Don't you think his tricks 
are wonderful?" 

"Mr. Clay, my father says you will be the next 
President of the United States. I wish I could go 
to Washington and live in the White House. I 
begged my father to be President but he only 
laughed and said he would rather see you there 
than to be President himself." 

"Well," laughed Mr. Clay, "if I am ever Presi- 
dent I shall expect Mary Todd to be one of my 
first guests. Will you come?" 

"Mary accepted with enthusiasm." 

But this was not the route by which she was 
to arrive at the White House. For the tall, suave, 
compromiser never completed the course. In 
later life, she wrought better when she transferred 

34 The Tragic Career of 

her hopes and energies to the sprightly tallsyca- 
more of the Sangamon. 

Few have appreciated either the capacity or the 
versatility of Mary Todd Lincoln. She was un- 
failing in the domestic share of her responsibilities. 
She was the frugal wife who reared the children; 
who tutored her eldest son for Harvard; who dis- 
cussed the events of the day with outstanding 
Illinois statesmen. 

When Lincoln was on the circuit, other lawyers 
ran home at week ends. Lincoln stayed out with 
Judge Davis. Distances were too great for the 
busy corpulent jurist to ride back and forth, so 
Lincoln stayed with him, transacting legal business 
and fixing up his political fences. These absences 
were borne philosophically by Mrs. Lincoln be' 
cause Lincoln was making strong political alli- 
ances, which later became valuable in his sena- 
torial and presidential campaigns. In 1853, when 
President Filmore offered Lincoln the governorship 
of Oregon Territory, Major Stuart and other 
warm political friends advised him to accept. Lin- 
coln put it up to Mrs. Lincoln, who promptly 
vetoed it. She saw in it a disastrous diversion. 

She cherished the friendship of Mr. and Mrs. 
Simeon Frances and had access to the editorial 
rooms of the Illinois State Journal which privilege 
she used on occasion much to Lincoln's advantage. 
During the Lincoln-Douglas debates she stayed pa- 

Mary Todd Lincoln 35 

tiently at home providing rest, comfort and cheer 
for her husband when not out on the hustings. 
She looked carefully after his health and the con' 
servation of his energy throughout this terrific 

When Lincoln received the telegram anouncing 
his nomination at the Chicago Convention in 
1860, he said to his delighted friends, "There is a 
little woman down on Eighth St. that will want to 
know about this.'" Off he went towards his home 
receiving congratulations from other friends along 
the way. Before he reached his home, a second 
and confirmatory telegram was handed to him by 
a messenger boy who had hastened after him. 

Joyously he entered his home, where he and 
Mrs. Lincoln were alone to rejoice over the news. 
This must have been to Mrs. Lincoln the supreme 
moment of her life. With the democratic party 
hopelessly split, this nomination was tantamount 
to election. 

The days between Lincoln's election and their 
journey to the Nation's capital were busy ones for 
Mrs. Lincoln as well as for the President-elect. 
Lincoln was much of the time closeted with poli' 
ticians, campaign managers, and prospective office 
seekers. The construction of his cabinet was of 
paramount concern. For awhile he received call' 
ers in the State House, but finally in order that 
he might write his inaugural address, and attend 

36 The Tragic Career of 

to other urgent matters, Mr. Smith, his brother 'iiv 
law, gave him secluded quarters in an upper story 
over his place of business. 

Mrs. Lincoln, as usual, entertained the numer- 
ous visitors, looked after the affairs of the house' 
hold, persisted in bringing Lincoln to his meals 
regularly and prepared for the party or levee to be 
given before they left Springfield. 

These bustling days of preparation and farewell 
in Springfield; — what a drama of transition they 
represent! What a fruitful epoch they closed! 
What a momentous epoch they introduced. How 
eagerly they must have been passed by Mary Todd 
Lincoln, now a brilliant, quixotic woman of forty 
three years. How little could she have apprehend' 
ed the portent of the journey to Washington, and 
the swiftness with which fate was to change her 
triumph of fulfillment to the ashes of despair. 

High noon, March 4, 1861, the Presidentelect 
with the aged Chief Justice Taney and the clerk 
of the United States Supreme Court walked slow- 
ly to the front of the platform erected at the east 
portico of the Capitol for the inaugural ceremo- 
nies. In his left hand he held a large, gold headed 
cane. Mrs. Lincoln and Senator Douglas were 
seated in waiting at the front of the platform. 
Taking the manuscript of the inaugural address 
from his breast pocket, he laid it with the cane on 
a little rickety table. As he glanced about for a 

Mary Todd Lincoln 37 

more suitable place to put his hat, the short, sturdy- 
arm of Stephen A. Douglas reached forward and 
relieved him of it. Then while Lincoln delivered 
one of the masterpieces of English prose, the "Lit- 
tle Giant" sat and listened attentively, nodding 
his shaggy head in approval, holding "Old Abe's" 
tall, shiny, new hat on his lap all the while. 

At last these three resolute hearts throbbed in 
unison for a common purpose and that purpose 
was to save the Nation. 

The ceremonies over, Mary Todd Lincoln went 
to the White House. "Her childish dream had 
become real," — her ambition of many years was 
justified. Douglas went to Lincoln and said: 
"Mr. President, what can I do to uphold you in 
this momentous crisis?" 

Lincoln replied: "Senator Douglas, you are the 
idol of the loyal northern Democracy. Go back 
home and tell the people what to do. They love 
you and have faith in you." 

Back to the west went the intrepid Douglas, 
entering on a new role likely to be the most useful 
of his long brilliant career. Day and night he 
spoke for the Union, to immense audiences in 
scores of places from Cincinnati to Chicago, where 
he made his last impassioned speech in the crowd' 
ed Wigwam, the very place in which Lincoln had 
been nominated, only a year before. Vilified and 
traduced by the slavocracy whom he had done so 

38 The Tragic Career of 

much to placate, and for whom he had sacrificed 
his own great ambition to become President, he 
sank exhausted from his patriotic labors and on 
June 3rd the White House was draped for him in 

In the Executive Mansion, Mary Todd found 
herself regarded in the North as an interloper and 
in the South as an apostate. She was surrounded 
by spies, traducers and snobs. Mrs. Zachariah 
Chandler, whose husband had vaulted from De- 
troit shop-keeper to the United States Senate, 
headed a self-appointed committee to show Mrs. 
Lincoln the social way. This was justly but not 
tactfully resented, and the Chandlers were hostile 
toward the Lincolns ever after. 

The capital was dangerously situated in slave- 
holding Maryland — Baltimore reeking with seces- 
sion, and rebellion. Across the Potomac was Vir- 
ginia with her arrogant and belligerent slavocracy. 
Men distrusted each other and the city was in 
imminent danger of invasion. Treason lurked in 
every corner and spies at every keyhole of the gov- 
ernmental departments. 

In the Lincoln household it was promptly de- 
cided best that in order to relieve Mrs. Lincoln of 
irritation from scurrilous letters and to thwart ac- 
cusations of disloyalty, all her mail — even her in- 
timate personal correspondence, should be opened 
for her. To this duty was assigned William O. 

Mary Todd Lincoln 39 

Stoddard, one of Lincoln's secretaries. All White 
House telegrams, of course, came through the 
War Office and were there dealt with as thought 

Mrs. Lincoln had had a foretaste of coming 
tragedies when she was told at Harrisburg of the 
plot to assassinate the President-elect at Baltimore 
and that he was to be conducted secretly to the 
Capitol. She became panic stricken and by her 
excitement came very near revealing the Pinker- 
ton plan. Lincoln was placed in charge of the 
massive Ward Lamon, who was armed to the 
teeth with almost every conceivable minor weapon 
of attack and defense. Mrs. Lincoln was placed 
in charge of Norman B. Judd. Both of these 
escorts were lawyer friends of the Lincolns. 
Needless to say Judd had the harder task of the 

Among Mrs. Lincoln's first heartaches came a 
realisation that most of the intimates of her 
youth, even her own Kentucky kinsfolk, must 
espouse the rebel cause. The rich Blue Grass 
country was a hot bed of secession. The vitriolic 
Cassius M. Clay and the venerable but forceful 
Robert Breckenridge, son of John Breckenridge, 
Attorney General in Jefferson's cabinet, were 
about the only outstanding belligerents for the 
Union cause in Lexington. 

The members of the Todd family, resident in 

40 The Tragic Career of 

Kentucky, though all had been emancipationists, 
were now, with but two exceptions, warmly sup- 
porting the new Confederacy. 

Mrs. Lincoln's oldest brother, Levi, an invalid, 
who died before the war ended, was for the Union, 
as was also her half sister, Mrs. Margaret Kel- 
logg. But her youngest brother, George, and 
three half-brothers, Samuel, David, and Alexan- 
der, had promptly joined the Rebel Army, while 
her half-sisters, Emile Helm, Martha White and 
Elodie Dawson, were the wives of Confederate 

In April Mrs. Lincoln's youngest sister, Emile 
Todd Helm, and her husband, were guests at the 
White House. Ben Harden Helm had graduated 
at West Point with the Class of '51. His father, 
Ex-Governor Helm, was a strong Union man. 
The young officer had become a great favorite of 
the President. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln both hoped 
to keep him enlisted in the cause of the govern- 
ment that had educated him in the science of war. 

Lincoln offered his young brother-in-law a com- 
mission as Pay Master in the United States Army, 
with the rank of Major. In the War Department 
is this record: "Helm, Ben Harden, nominated 
for Pay Master in the U. S. Army, April 27th, 
1861. Declined." 

Helm had had an interview with the traitor- 
ous Col. Robert E. Lee — the pampered, Tidewa- 

Mary Todd Lincoln 41 

ter Virginian. Hence, the word "Declined" in 
the record. 

After the battle of Bull Run, David Todd was 
made commandant of a Richmond prison. In con' 
sonance with the cruel system of rebel prison man' 
agement, his conduct when related north by es' 
caped or exchanged prisoners, fed the rumors of 
disloyalty against Mrs. Lincoln and brought her 
profound distress. 

Feb. 20, 1862, their third son, William Wal- 
lace Lincoln, age eleven years, died at the White 
House after a brief illness. Willie was a youth 
of great promise and his death, the second tragedy 
of their domestic life, cast deep gloom over both 
Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. 

The bloody battle of Shiloh began on Sunday 
morning, April 6th, 1862. Grant's army was 
surprised, and by night was driven in a huddled 
mass to the very banks of the Tennessee. Before 
Monday morning, however, came reinforcements. 
Lew Wallace's Corps had at last found their way 
to Shiloh. The fresh troops of Buell and Nelson 
had come by forced marches from Nashville in 
time to attack the rebels at daybreak. The Con' 
federates were driven back and still further back, 
leaving their dead on the field to be buried with 
grim and hasty funeral rites by Grant. Among 
these dead were Mrs. Lincoln's brother, Sam. 

There was exultation for a Union victory but 

42 The Tragic Career of 

sorrow for the stricken little "Lady of the White 
House. " Amid the rejoicings of the entire North, 
Mrs. Lincoln must mourn in silent seclusion lest 
her traducers find in her sorrow a passion for the 
secession cause. 

The year 1863 brought to devoted and loyal 
Mary Lincoln the fullest measure of physical and 
mental suffering. In June Mrs. Lincoln, while 
riding with the President to the Soldiers' Home, 
was violently thrown from her carriage and severe 
ly injured by her head striking a stone. Her re" 
covery, at first despaired of, was at best slow and 
painful. The President was greatly alarmed and 
watched over her tenderly and anxiously. 

By mid-summer the Confederacy had reached 
its zenith of confidence and arrogance. But after 
Gettysburg, July 4th, Lee was in full retreat 
southward. On the same natal day, Pemberton 
surrendered Vicksburg to Grant. In Lincoln's 
words, 'The Father of Waters again flowed un- 
vexed to the sea." A minor but significant por- 
tion of this grandiose southern strategy was Mor- 
gan's raid into Indiana and Ohio. Morgan's three 
thousand troopers were scattered and General John 
Hunt Morgan, of Lexington, Kentucky, became a 
prisoner in the Columbus, Ohio, penitentiary. 

The North was again exultant but Mary Lin- 
coln on her bed of pain could not be expected to 
be cheerful. In spite of watchful precaution it 

Mary Todd Lincoln 43 

came to her that her brother, David, who had 
been promoted from the prison pen at Richmond 
to a command in Pemberton's army, was shot 
through the lung and mortally wounded in the 
siege of Vicksburg. 

In August, and before she had recovered from 
the accident, another shock came to her. In a 
skirmish at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, her youngest 
brother, Alexander, was killed. 

Though an officer on the staif of General Ben 
Harden Helm, he was only twenty-three, just a lit' 
tie older than Mrs. Lincoln's own eldest son, Rob- 
ert. In his babyhood, when the Lincolns visited 
Kentucky, he had been the darling of her heart, her 
loving, fiery red headed baby brother, Alex. Again 
her distressed and sympathetic husband found it 
difficult to comfort her. 

September 19-20 occurred the battle of Chicka- 
mauga — a disastrous Federal defeat and but for 
the lion-hearted Thomas, 'The Rock of Chicka- 
mauga," it would have been a total rout. Here 
was a double blow; for Mrs. Lincoln was loyal to 
the core. 

At Chickamauga, General Ben Harden Helm 
was killed — Helm, whom the President and his 
wife had tried so zealously at the beginning of the 
war to keep on the Union side. In her recent 
book already referred to, Elizabeth Helm, Mrs. 
Lincoln's niece, devotes a touching chapter to the 

44 The Tragic Career of 

circumstances connected with the death of Gen- 
eral Helm. 

Like the wives of many southern generals, Emile 
Todd Helm, followed the movements of her hus- 
band, keeping near him as the strife wore on, and 
thus, after Chickamauga, found herself beyond the 
Union lines. General Helm lay buried at Atlanta 
and she wished to return north to her children. 
She secured a military pass, but at the frontier 
was detained. The President was telegraphed, 
asking what to do with her. Lincoln responded: 
"Send her to me." When she reached the Execu- 
tive Mansion there followed days of deep sorrow. 
Not since the death of Willie had there been felt 
such desolation. Day after day the two sisters 
wept in silent embrace. Lincoln understood and 
sympathised. Their emotion was too deep for vo- 
cal comfort. 

With returning physical health, Mrs. Lincoln 
busied herself in various ways to shake off the 
many lesser emotional traumas. She visited the 
hospitals, of which there were about thirty-five in 
Washington by the summer of 1864. Although 
naturally of a warm, sympathetic nature, she was 
not of the disposition to feel lightly the resentment 
against her that had developed among the soldiers 
during Col. David Todd's incumbency as a rebel 
prison keeper. 

Mary Lincoln was never a coward. Her "in- 

Mary Todd Lincoln 45 

herited instinct from her Indian'fighting ancestors 
was ever fired at the prospect of battle." On that 
fateful Sunday night after Bull Run in '61, when 
McDowell's panic-stricken troops were surging 
into the Capitol, expecting momentarily to be 
overtaken by Beauregard's hosts, she was urged 
by General Scott to flee. She did not budge — 
declaring that where the President stayed she 
would stay. 

Now again in July, 1864, when Early's thirty 
thousand rebels were advancing through Maryland 
on their fruitless mission to capture Washington, 
she was urged to leave the city. Again she refused 
to abandon the President and together they went 
to the battle front. 

On the 11th there was a brisk assault by the 
rebels on Fort Stevens, one of the strong but poor' 
ly garrisoned fortifications around Washington. 
The Lincolns received a baptism of fire. Only a 
few feet from where Lincoln stood a Federal sup 
geon was killed. 

From City Point, General Wright had arrived 
with his division of veterans in the nick of time to 
engage the enemy and save the situation. While 
the battle was raging, General Wright walked up 
to Lincoln and said: "Mr. President, you are the 
Commander'in'Chief of the Army and Navy, but 
I command on this field. You must get away 
from here." 

46 The Tragic Career of 

Did it ever occur to you that Lincoln was the 
only President that was ever under fire of an en- 
emy army while in that office, to say nothing of a 
President and his wife? 

As Lincoln's first term was drawing to a close 
he, of course, desired renomination. So did Mrs. 
Lincoln. A political contest always brought her 
to her feet. She was again cheered and gratified 
by support from Lexington. And as four years 
ago, Robert Breckenridge and the resolute Cas- 
sius M. Clay both strenuously upheld Lincoln and 
the Union. Breckenridge, aged but fiery, was made 
temporary chairman of the National Union Con- 
vention at Baltimore, June 6th. He was the most 
striking figure in that assembly. He made one of 
the most eloquent and patriotic addresses ever 
made before a political convention. His fervid 
logic and ringing eloquence brought the assembly 
to its feet time after time. When the old patri- 
arch closed his great keynote speech, all semblance 
of doubt among the wavering delegates was dissi- 
pated and Lincoln's renomination was assured. 
The vicissitudes of that campaign were keenly 
felt at the White House. Intense and bitter were 
the personal and political slurs cast upon the Presi- 
dent and Mrs. Lincoln. In the theatre of war the 
rebels stubbornly held the inner lines. Early in 
July a rebel army nearly captured the outposts of 
Washington by the oft trodden Shenandoah trail. 

Mary Todd Lincoln 47 

Chambersburg was burned by McCausland 
July 30th. Pennsylvania, the stronghold of Lin' 
coin's support, was wavering. Her commercial 
interests were jeopardized. This feeling was also 
dominant in other northern centers of trade. New 
York was deeply disgruntled, then as now always 
alien to law and morals. "Her conscience choked 
with cotton, her mouth kankered with gold," her 
southern trade blighted, — why continue Lincoln's 
foolish war? The foreign slave trade which had 
been illicit since 1808, always nested in New 
York, was at last obliterated by the blockade. 
Here was a species of bootlegging alone aggregate 
ing $17,000,000 a year, knocked into a cocked 
hat. Indeed, New York was deeply aggrieved. 
Why not capitulate to the slavocracy and have 

The war was being declared a failure. PetU' 
lent, disgruntled and intriguing politicians schemed 
to maneuver Lincoln off the ticket. But before 
the November elections the fates smiled on the 
Administration. There were Federal victories. 

Grant, the imperturbable, was tightening his 
strangle hold on Lee at Richmond and Petersburg. 
The intrepid Sherman had captured Atlanta, the 
gateway to the South. The dashing Sheridan in 
the Shenandoah Valley had ruthlessly closed the 
back door to Washington against further inva' 
sion. The Emancipation Proclamation had been 

48 The Tragic Career of 

assimilated into northern psychology. Moreover, 
it had staggered the slave power and had forever 
dispelled the possibility of foreign intervention. 
Triumph for the Union forces was assured and 
Father Abraham was sustained. With character- 
istic Hoosier humor he "allowed, the people did 
not care to trade horses while crossing the stream." 
Mrs. Lincoln was to remain mistress of the Execu- 
tive Mansion. 

By March 4, 1865, the Navy had closed all the 
Southern ports. The invincible Thomas had de- 
stroyed Hood's rebel army at Nashville. Sher- 
man had marched sixty thousand veterans, scarcely 
molested, from Atlanta to the sea, and turning 
northward toward Richmond, was carrying every- 
thing before him. Well could his great antagonist, 
General Joseph E. Johnston, declare: "Such an 
army, such a commander, never trod the earth since 
the days of Caeser." The end of the war was now 
plainly in view. 

Mary Todd Lincoln again sat on the improvised 
platform at the east end of the Capitol. Chase 
administered the oath. Taney had gone to his re- 
ward. Both of these renowned Chief Justices had 
given the President many vexations; Taney, with 
his brilliant legal mind benumbed by slavocratic 
domination; Chase, by intrigues while Secretary 
of the Treasury, but the great, patient Lincoln had 
mastered them both. Douglas was not present to 

Mary Todd Lincoln 49 

manifest his approval. But Mary Todd Lincoln, 
if possible, was more in earnest with the affairs of 
the Nation than ever. Her heart thrilled with 
pride as the President, tall and gaunt, his features 
rugged and earnest, rose to deliver his second in' 
augural. Particularly did she exultantly acquiesce 
in the closing words — so touching and so memor' 
able: 'With malice toward none; with charity 
for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us 
to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work 
we are in; to bind up the Nation's wounds; to 
care for him who shall have borne the battle, and 
for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which 
may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace 
among ourselves, and with all nations. " 

Shortly after the inauguration, at Grant's invi' 
tation, the Lincolns spent ten days at headquarters 
of the Army of the Potomac. Their overstrained 
minds needed relaxation. Especially did they need 
to get away from the new influx of office seekers 
which invaded every nook and cranny of the White 
House. Their quarters were on the "River 
Queen" which had conveyed them up the James 
to City Point. Mrs. Lincoln rested and little Tad 
had the time of his life. 

Horace Porter in his sprightly volume, "Cam' 
paigning With Grant," reminisces minutely of this 
outing. Porter records some quixotic things which 
Mrs. Lincoln did; but in the main it was a pleas' 

50 The Tragic Career of 

ant, restful vacation. There were headquarters 
dinners. There were reviews of the army and in' 
spections. On these occasions Tad on his pony, 
his little military cloak flapping in the breeze, was 
the busiest trooper of the cavalcade. The elements 
of the ludicrous were not lacking. The towering 
Lincoln, betopped with the familiar stove pipe 
hat, bestrode the General-in-Chief's big bay 
charger, "Cincinnati," while the stubby Grant 
himself rode his little pony, "Jeff Davis." Had 
these two riders exchanged mounts the situation 
would have been as risible. And thus remarking, 
the members of Grant's staff got much amusement 
out of the Presidential sojourn. 

One sunny afternoon, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln 
were given a ride along the James. They came to 
a wooded cemetery near the roadside. The Presi- 
dent directed the driver to stop. They got out of 
the carriage and strolled among the tombstones, 
the clustering foliage and the leafing trees. 'The 
world was lifting its bowed head from the long 
bereavement of winter." The scene was one to 
make the tired couple thoughtful. Mr. Lincoln 
said tenderly to his wife: "Mary, you are younger 
than I, you will outlive me. When I die I wish 
you to bury me in a quiet wooded place like this." 
To this simple request, a momentous sequel was 
to occur only too soon. 

On Saturday, April 1st, the River Queen 

Mary Todd Lincoln 51 

steamed back to Washington, Tad and his mother 
and his pony on board, leaving the President be- 
hind. Grant had urged him to stay a few days 
longer and Stanton had seconded this request by a 
kindly urgent telegram from the War Office. Lin- 
coln decided to stay, declaring in spicy Hoosier 
vernacular, he "had a sneaking notion that things 
were going to happen. " And things did happen. 
Lee was making a last desperate effort to shake off 
the bull dog grip of Grant. 

Saturday, April 1st, the pitched battle of Five 
Forks — a resounding Union victory — marked the 
beginning of the final Confederate debacle. Sun- 
day, April 2nd, Richmond was evacuated and the 
truculent Jeff Davis, with his Cabinet, were fugi- 
tives, bag and baggage. The next day Lincoln 
walked about the abandoned rebel capital before 
returning to Washington. 

After an exciting one hundred mile race to cor- 
ral the fleeing army of Northern Virginia, attended 
by contacts and skirmishes at Burkeville, Amelia 
Court-house, Farmville, Jettersville, Sailor's Creek 
and Curdsville, Lee was finally brought to bay 
Sunday morning, April 9th, at Appomattox Court 
House. That Sunday afternoon the famous sur- 
render took place in the parlor of Wilmer Mc- 
Lean's brick house across the single street from 
the Court House. Here twenty-eight thousand 
three hundred and fifty-six starving rebel prison- 


52 The Tragic Career of 

ers were fed and paroled. Johnson's army was 
not to capitulate until April 26th, but hostile 
ties were giving way to negotiations and the war 
was virtually over. The Lincolns back in Wash- 
ington were contemplating a surcease from the 
terrible trials of the past four years. They were 
trying to efface from their memories the crimson 
annals from Sumpter to Appomattox. On that 
last ride which they took on Good Friday, April 
14th, they were mutual in their desire to ride 
alone and blithely talked of better days to come. 

Then came the great tragedy at Ford's Theatre! 
Who shall comprehend the volume or fathom the 
depth of suffering that overwhelmed the already 
overwrought Mrs. Lincoln as she sat moaning all 
night in the little front room of the Peterson house 
across the street from Ford's? 

Saturday morning, April 1 5, at twenty 'two min' 
utes after seven o'clock, Lincoln expired. Between 
the sobs and shrieks of the distracted woman, the 
commiserating Stanton was heard to declare, 
"Now he belongs to the Ages!" Some kind soul 
might truly have uttered the same noble sentiment 
in regard to Mary Todd Lincoln. It is hardly a 
figure of speech to say that the bullet that sped on 
its way to take the life of the President also took 
the life of Mary Todd Lincoln. From that mc 
ment, her submerged pathological mentality be' 
came apparent. 

Mary Todd Lincoln 53 

"The shock of this great culminating blow shat- 
tered the last of Mary Lincoln's reserve force, 
already so weakened by former losses and repres- 
sions. Her collapse was complete." Little Tad 
never left her and in him she now centered all the 
life and hope she had left. 

In the long sad seventeen years that followed 
there were exacerbations of complete mental aliena- 
tion. They were to be years of abuse, anguish and 
isolation. Mrs. Lincoln was physically and mental- 
ly too sick to note the Nation's demonstration of 
grief, or to attend the last funeral rites at Spring- 
field in May. 

"Even the shocking tragedy of her husband's 
murder did not protect Mary Todd Lincoln from 
situations in which she displayed herself at a dis- 
advantage. When it was determined to convey 
the body of Lincoln back to Springfield, a meeting 
was held in that city." A committee was chosen 
and a site was selected for his tomb. 

The bizarre populace of that ambitious capital 
had in mind a plaza of four city blocks, between 
the west front of the old Capitol and the Alton 
Railroad, where the new State House now stands. 
What could be more enticing than a beautiful 
monument in this public place in the very heart 
of the city? 

'The land was owned by a family named Ma- 
ther, who agreed to sell it for the purpose. A 

54 The Tragic Career of 

vault was erected, men working day and night to 
have it ready for occupancy when the body should 

arrive it was later to be veneered with mar- 

ble." But Mrs. Lincoln made emphatic protest 
against interment at such a public place. Had 
not her husband only a few weeks before in the 
cemetery back on the James in Virginia said: 
"Mary, you are younger than I. You will 
outlive me. When I die I wish you to bury me 
in some quiet wooded place/ ' Had she not pledged 
her acquiescence to this emphatic request? 

But scarcely anybody in Springfield could give 
the sorrowing widow any credit for doing the 
right thing. A bitter controversy ensued over 
what was termed her obstinacy. She would not 
allow the body to be placed in the partly finished 

The Association consented that Lincoln's body 
should be placed in the public receiving vault at 
the beautiful new wooded Oak Ridge Cemetery, a 
mile north of Springfield, but only as a temporary 
necessity. The city was determined to bring Mrs. 
Lincoln to her senses and proceeded with the work 
of embellishing their prised structure, thinking she 
would ultimately yield. But they were mistaken. 

Mrs. Lincoln went to Chicago and took rooms 
for herself, Robert and Tad, at the Tremont 

June 5th, she wrote the Springfield Monument 

Mary Todd Lincoln 55 

Association that, unless within ten days she had 
the positive pledge that the tomb and monument 
should be at Oak Ridge, and not on the Mather 
plaza, she would positively remove the body and 
take it back to Washington, to be buried under 
the dome of the Capitol in the empty tomb origin- 
ally constructed for the body of Washington, 
which was at her disposal. 

"The Association determined not to yield to 
her. It voted to send its President, Richard J. 
Oglesby, and its Secretary, O. M. Hatch, to Chi' 
cago. . . . Mrs. Lincoln learned through the papers 
of the Committee's approach, and refused to see 
them. Instead, she sent her son, Capt. Robert T. 
Lincoln, to meet them at the train. He sent them 
back to Springfield with a letter from her dated 
June 10th, 1865, saying that five of her ten days 
of grace had already gone, and unless she had 
the positive pledge of the Association that her de- 
mands were to be complied with, she would re- 
move the body." The Committee, fearing legal 
proceedings, yielded. 

She had kept the pledge made to her husband 
back in the secluded Virginia cemetery but this 
did not add to her list of friends. It now became 
the fashion to vocalize the pent up abuse always 
in store for herself and Lincoln. 

The erratic Herndon proceeded to prepare and 
deliver throughout the state a bombastic lecture 

56 The Tragic Career of 

on Ann Rutledge which stung Mrs. Lincoln to 
the quick. It was unfortunate that the first meet' 
ing between Miss Todd and Billy Herndon back 
in the early Springfield days ended in a lasting 
disagreement between them. Otherwise the world 
would never have heard much of the Ann Rut' 
ledge affair. 

In congress Senator Sumner introduced the bill 
to give Mrs. Lincoln a pension of $5,000 a year. 
This brought on a nationwide controversy in both 
the Forum and the newspapers. The Republicans 
made a disgraceful political fight on the bill, which 
was exceeded in contumely only by the Democrats 
trying to profit from the affair. The bill was dc 
feated. At the next session of Congress, Senator 
Sumner again brought up his bill and again an 
acrimonious debate followed. The stalwart old 
senator from Massachusetts, his eyes suffused with 
tears, made a gallant appeal to Congress and the 
country to recognize the rights of the widow in 

The bill, modified to $3,000, was finally passed 
by a bare majority. Years afterward, when Mrs. 
Lincoln's days were numbered, a pension bill of 
$5,000 was passed in favor of Mrs. Garfield. An 
amendment to the bill raised Mrs. Lincoln's pen" 
sion to $5,000. But she did not live to enjoy the 
benefit, for she died July 16, 1882. 

After the election in 1864, anticipating another 

Mary Todd Lincoln 57 

term in official Washington, Mrs. Lincoln, though 
usually frugal, had made in New York extensive 
purchases of merchandise for home and personal 
adornment. The avaricious New York shopkeep- 
ers, true to form, had extended to her excessive 
credit, but now from her suddenly restricted in' 
come she could not meet the bills. They scandal' 
ously published her delinquency and joined in the 
chorus of denunciation. 

To be brief, her debts were finally adjusted and 
Mrs. Lincoln obsessed with a desire to travel, took 
Tad abroad, returning in the spring of 1871. She 
placed him in a school in London and the youth 
progressed satisfactorily with his education. 

On their journey home, Tad developed typhoid 
fever and died in Chicago, July 15, 1871. Eleven 
more dreary years of tragic sorrow awaited her. 

The episode of Mrs. Lincoln's final mental col' 
lapse, to which we now come, has been little un' 
derstood and I must present it with the most un' 
satisfactory brevity. 

"In the winter of 18 74' 5, she was in Florida. 
On March 12, 1875, she wired to the family phy- 
sician, Dr. Ralph Isham, imploring him to save 
Robert's life, telling him that she was taking a 
train for Chicago. Robert was not sick, and he 
and Dr. Isham met her at the train. 11 

"She was shocked and overjoyed in finding Rob' 
ert alive and well, and soon grew cheerful and ani' 

58 The Tragic Career of 

mated. " She talked pleasantly concerning her win- 
ter in Florida except for a fancied attempt made 
to poison her at Jacksonville, at which place she 
bought a cup of coffee and was confident that it 
contained poison. She went to the Grand Pacific 
Hotel and insisted that Robert should remain with 

"Robert remained in the hotel that night and 
subsequent nights, sleeping in the room next to 
that of his mother. Every night, and several times 
a night, she would rap at his door, and tell him 
she was in danger. Sometimes he had to finish 
the night sleeping on a lounge in her room; some- 
times she came in with him, and he gave her his 
bed and got what sleep he could on a couch. She 
wore him out, and did much the same for the 
chambermaids and other people in the hotel. An 
Indian, she said, was pulling wires out of her 
brain. The doctors were taking steel springs out 
of her head. People were trying to murder her." 

"The manager of the hotel and all who had to 
do with her became apprehensive, and wished for 
her removal to some more suitable place." 

"At length Robert felt compelled to apply to 
the County Court of Chicago to have her declared 
insane. No little care was taken to hide the rec- 
ords. When Mr. William E. Barton, in recent 
years, instituted a search for them, the oldest 
clerks in the office declared that such papers did 

Mary Todd Lincoln 59 

not exist; subsequent investigation, however, re- 
vealed them. Mr. Barton was one of the first per' 
sons to see these papers after they were carefully 
hidden away without docket number. " 

"So far as records show, the sad thing was done 
as decently and with as much dignity as possible. 
Robert's lawyer was Leonard Swett, and Mary 
Lincoln's was Isaac N. Arnold — old friends of 
the Lincolns. Judge Wallace was on the bench. 
The complaining witness was, unfortunately but 
of necessity, the son, Robert. The jury was com' 
posed of twelve as prominent men as Chicago had 
at that time, including such men as Lyman J. Gage 
and Chas. B. Far well." 

"Mary Lincoln was found insane and a fit sub' 
ject for confinement in one of the State Hospitals 
for the Insane in the state of Illinois. She was 
not taken to a State Hospital, however, but to a 
private asylum at Batavia." 

'The date of Mrs. Lincoln's first trial in which 
she was declared insane was May 19, 1875. She 
was in the sanitarium not quite thirteen months," 
after which she was brought into court and dc 
clared sane. That she was insane when commit' 
ted to Batavia admits of no doubt. That she was 
sane when released is conjectural. 

Again Mary Lincoln went abroad. She had 
become estranged from Robert. Part of the time 
he did not know her address. December, 1879, in 

60 The Tragic Career of 

Frankfort, Germany, she suffered a severe injury 
to her spine by a fall from a step'ladder. 

With great difficulty she reached the home land. 
Across the Atlantic she was aboard the Amerique. 
On the same ship was Sarah Bernhardt, her man' 
ager and her troupe. An issue of the New York 
Sun in October, 1880, tells the story of how indif' 
ferently Mary Lincoln, who had been almost a 
queen, was received in her own country, — how 
she was touched on the shoulder by the police 
and told to stand back with the crowd while the 
divine Sarah was cheered to the echo and carried 
away triumphantly in Manager Abbey's carriage. 

That simple newspaper story should have stirred 
a national sense of shame. Sarah Bernhardt, never 
in all her career upon the stage, played so tragic 
a role as Mary Todd performed on that day. 

Mrs. Lincoln tarried in New York and con' 
suited Dr. Lewis A. Sayre, the eminent orthope' 
die surgeon. She felt improved and proceeded to 
Springfield to the home of her sister, Mrs. Ed' 
wards. It was the home in which she had first 
met Abraham Lincoln, the home in which they 
were married. She did not move among her old 
friends. She shut herself in her room, and hid 
herself as much as possible from her own kindred. 
She shut every window, and pulled down every 
shade. To the few friends who called on her she 
talked of the virtues of Abraham Lincoln. 

Mary Todd Lincoln 61 

"Especially did she remember and repeat the 
story of their last ride together, the afternoon of 
the assassination. Their happy daydream then 
was of a trip to the Pacific Coast to see the min- 
ing of the gold that was to pay the national debt." 
She talked about the last words that fell from his 
lips that night in the box at Ford's Theatre when 
he expressed an animated desire for a trip to the 
Holy Land. Let us be thankful that she had this 
memory to brighten the horizon when her sun had 
gone down. When her stricken mind was at the 
nadir of melancholy, she talked of the stroll in the 
wooded cemetery back on the James in Virginia 
and the promise she had given to Lincoln. She 
talked of the shameful attack made on her by her 
old friends because she would not allow the Presi' 
dent's body to be entombed in the noisy barren 
plaza, with the Alton trains rattling by night and 

Robert T. Lincoln had not met his mother on 
the pier in New York. She had not forgiven him 
for sending her to the hospital. But after she had 
returned to Springfield, Mr. and Mrs. Robert T. 
Lincoln went down from Chicago and visited her 
in the old Edwards home. She sat in her deep 
mourning dress as they entered. 

They laid in her lap a baby, saying, "We have 
brought to you your granddaughter and name- 
sake, Mary Lincoln." She hugged the baby to 

62 Mary Todd Lincoln 

her heart with maternal joy, and Robert was for' 

"So much, at least, it is good to know, that she 
did not die unreconciled to her eldest and only 
remaining son/'' 

The time has arrived when this noble woman 
should come into her own in American history. 
Her integrity of character, her intellectual endow 
ments, her patriotism, her loyalty to Abraham 
Lincoln and to the government during its greatest 
crisis, should immunize her from venomous biogra' 
phical fakers. In all the great affairs of their com' 
mon life, Abraham Lincoln and his wife stood to" 
gether — not shoulder to shoulder — for he was fif' 
teen inches taller than she — but heart to heart. 

"It may have been that gentle Ann Rutledge, or 
portly, complacent Mary Owens, or youthful, 
light-hearted Sarah Rickard could have endowed 
the tall Sycamore of the Sangamon with a richer 
measure of marital bliss, but never did a young 
wife bring to a husband, interested in statecraft 
and anxious for preferment, such wealth of first- 
hand information on a grave, moral and political 
subject — such fruits of intimate association with 
great public men of her day as did Mary Todd to 
Abraham Lincoln' ' — the greatest American of 
them all. 








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